The Perfect Yoga Sequence for Cyclists

By Hannah Franco

I seriously have the greatest grandmother ever. She’s in her 80’s and every year  (basically since it started) she has ridden her bicycle across the state… the state of Iowa.  I tried one year to go with her when I was around 17. I did my best to keep up, thinking I was pretty strong (I was on swim team and I played soccer regularly) but she still left me in the dust… I only lasted 3 days. She doesn’t seem to even notice that she’s 80 now and she still takes down 60 mile days like its nothing.  In honor of her and all the other people who don’t let anything get in the way of living fully I thought I’d pull together a top 10 poses to do pre or post cycle. This yoga sequence for cyclists is perfect before spin class, mountain biking, road cycling or even just a nice cruiser bike ride. Regardless of how you choose to exercise, yoga is a great way to prepare your muscles as well as aid in recovery!

fold
1. Foreword fold with hands interlaced behind back (Uttanasana)

101: Feet are hip width apart. Fold forward. Interlace your hands together behind your back and let the arms hang over your head.

Variations: Reach down and grab your ankles

Benefits: hamstrings/shoulders/ chest

pyramid
2. Pyramid Pose (Parsvottonasana)

101: Both legs are straight. Spine is long. Hands to the hips, shin, or floor.

Variations: Hands interlaced behind the back.

Benefits: hamstrings

down dog
3. Pigeon / Downward dog (Kapotasana /Adomuka Svanasana)

101: hands are shoulder width apart.  Hips are up towards the sky and your spine is long. Cross your left leg over the right thigh. Flex your left foot and press the left knee out to the left. Bend in your right knee coming up on to the ball of your right foot.

Variations: Normal down dog, both feet on the floor.

Benefits: hips/ hamstring/ quad

hamstring
4. Half splits (Ardha Hanumanasana)

101: (front) Left leg is extended straight, flex your foot. Right knee and ankle are stacked.  Hands are to the hips, shin, or floor. Spine is long.

Variations: Full splits but be kind! No rushing!

Benefits: hamstrings

hips
5. Low lunge (Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

101: (front) Left knee and ankle are stacked. Your right leg is extended behind you and you are on the top of your right thigh not knee. Hands to your hips. Spine is long.

Variations: Reach around and grab the foot of the extended leg bringing it closer to your hip

Benefits: hip flexors/ quad

cat
6. Cat /Cow (Marjaryasana/ Bitilasana)

101: Knees and hips are stacked, hands and shoulders are stacked. Arch the spine up and down with the breath

Variations: Move the spine in a circle around to the right then left.

Benefits: Back

half bow
7. Half bow pose (Dhanurasana)

101: Your right forearm supports you. Reach back for your left foot or shin with your left hand. Kick the foot in to the hand to lift the let.

Variations:  Grab both legs at the same time

Benefits: back / chest

twist
8. Seated twist (Matsyendrasana)

101: Your spine stays long. The bent left leg crosses over the right extended leg. Your left hand is on the ground supporting you and your right arm wraps around the left leg.  Look over to the right. Do both sides

Variations: You can tuck your extended leg up by your hip

Benefits: back/chest

seated fold

9. Seated forward fold  (Janushirshasana)

101: Your spine stays long, you don’t have to touch your toes. The left side foot touches your right inner thigh, lean forward. Do both sides

Variations: Don’t forget to do the second side!

Benefits: hips/ hamstrings

bridge

10. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

101: feet hip width apart. Knees and ankles stacked arms by your side.

Variations: The hands can be interlaced behind your back.

Benefits: back /chest /shoulders

cycling sequence

Happy Cycling! See you in class!

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Alexander Technique: Discovering the Balance Between Ease and Strength

By Hannah Michahelles

I’ll start by admitting that I am a serious fan of Alexander Technique! I started studying the technique as a Freshman in college as part of my major in Theater for Social Justice. I was privileged with the opportunity to take both group and private lessons for three years (oh, how I miss you, liberal arts education!) and I found the work deeply profound and lasting.HannahMichaelles

The technique, very simply, is about learning to let go of harmful tension in your body.

Like yoga and other ‘attention through movement’ practices, it is about focusing your awareness on the body and breath, about noticing your postural habits, your patterns of holding and tensing, and learning to let them go.

It’s about finding a balance between ease and strength. It’s about learning to move through the world with a lightness, a sense of freedom. It really is as good as it sounds!

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As an actor, the work becomes a bit more specific. The technique helps you access a “neutral” body. You begin to notice your own physical idiosyncrasies and learn to let them go, to find a more neutral body onto which you can “build character.” You learn safe ways of  adding another’s physical characteristics onto your own body’s blank slate. This becomes powerful and technically precise with a deepened awareness of the body and how it moves through space.

You can take the principals of the technique with you, anywhere you go. In a car, on your bike, standing in line. The insight, the knowledge you gain about your body and how to make it feel good, stays with you. I have found this technique to be my best companion on my yoga mat. I know better what my body tends to do and where it tends to hold and overcompensate. I know better how to let that stuff go, how to move more freely, and with ease, into my practice. I know how to better protect myself from injury and repetitive strain, how to keep myself safe and self-soothe. And, most importantly, I have a deepened joy in moving and breathing and the yumminess that comes from taking really good care of myself.

Join us for our Alexander Technique Workshop in June with Tara Sullivan where we’ll learn to stop doing the habits that interfere with our innate ease and can then make conscious choices about how we want to move through life.

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Yoga Nidra: The Ultimate Healing and Relaxation Practice

Does life seem like it’s just rushing by? Are you left thinking, ‘I can’t keep up! My mind is racing with all I need to accomplish!’. Are you alternating between tired and wired and feeling worn out, run down and out of sorts?  Everyday we go to battle with our life and our problems. We try to fix ourselves with new clothes, new diets and new extremes causing the cycle to continue. Today, we invite you to investigate a new approach and discover Yoga Nidra or “yogic sleep,” a form of deep meditation designed to bring the participant into a state of pure awareness and self-discovery. Simplified, we can achieve complete composure by relaxing, renewing, and just being. We can get in to that!

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra, loosely translated as ‘yogic sleep,’ is a reclined practice designed to bring you to a state of pure awareness and self discovery.  Described as one of the deepest forms of meditation, Yoga Nidra leads to a state of supreme stillness and insight. Through the practice we’re able to find ease and responsiveness through letting go (relaxing) and paying attention to what is here with a kind heart, something that is so unique compared to our usual response to stress.

What are the Benefits of Yoga Nidra? 

Throughout our lives we encounter a myriad of challenges. One goal of Yoga Nidra is to create a relaxed mind and in turn increase creativity, spontaneity and awareness.  When our mind is open and relaxed we are better prepared for anything that comes our way, whether it be physical illness, anxiety, loss or grief.  The practice has also been shown to improve Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, Chronic pain, Chemical dependency and even PTSD in Veterans. Lastly, many practitioners find an overall increase in wellbeing and joy as this practice asks us to welcome our true selves and not try to change anything.

Get a taste of Yoga Nidra in this sample recording with Namaste instructor Ashley Sharp

If traditional sitting meditation sounds too intimidating, this may be just the practice for you, and who knows, maybe you’ll be able to channel The Little Duck in the poem below:

The Little Duck

Now we are ready to look at something pretty special.
It is a duck riding the ocean a hundred feet beyond the surf.
This is some sort of duck, and he cuddles in the swells.

There is a great heaving in the Atlantic,
And he is a part of it.

He can rest while the Atlantic heaves, because he rests in the Atlantic.

Probably he doesn’t know how large the ocean is.

And neither do you.
But he realizes it.

And what does he do, I ask you. He sits down in it.
He reposes in the immediate as if it were infinity – which it is.
That is religion, and the duck has it.

He has made himself a part of the boundless,
by easing himself into it just where it touches him.
I like the little duck.

He doesn’t know much.
But he has religion.

 -Donald C. Babcock

Want to go deeper into Yoga Nidra? Check out our website for upcoming workshop dates!

Featured image by Annie Internicola

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Over TWIRED: Change the World One Savasana at a Time

By Vickie Russell Bell

How twired are you? First things first, what is twired? Twired = tired + wired. And it’s an epidemic in our society. We are running on empty. Some of us go to bed too late, don’t get enough sleep and then run on adrenaline all day. Others don’t sleep well (due to hormones, stress, alcohol) and then wake up, and move caffeinated and wired through the day. We don’t know how to rest. No one taught us. We think that zoning out to TV, or answering emails on the couch while we down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, or playing candy crush on our ipad is rest. Think again. Rest involves stopping and we don’t do that well. Some of us are so twired, we’re afraid that if we stop, we may not be able to start again (you know who you are!)

Being busy is the new addiction, and it’s actually a control mechanism that keeps us from feeling. It keeps the fear and the loneliness below the surface. Stopping to rest can be downright frightening. It might mean that we tap into a part of ourselves that we’ve denied and kept hidden for a long time. Stopping and feeling requires that we wake up.

So, how can we learn to rest? Yoga and savasana to the rescue!

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Here’s What You Do:

Set a timer for 15-20 minutes. Place a folded blanket under your head as a pillow and a roll under your lower thighs/knees (or put your legs up on a chair or your bed). Place your arms a little away from your sides. Let the weight of your body drop into the floor. Notice your breath. Soften something that feels tense. Do nothing but rest. Attempt to relax, and stay awake. Feel + breathe + be.

Savasana lacks ambition. Savasana is receptive. Savasana is soft and kind. Savasana is about being and not about doing. Savasana is the practice of deliberate stillness. Savasana is the antidote to twired. 15-20 minutes will radically shift your nervous system. You will feel more relaxed, more at ease, more peaceful. The more you practice the easier it becomes, and it will change your life. Your friends, family and co-workers will thank you!

Want More? Try the 30-Day Challenge: 

For the next month 30 days, do 15-20 minutes of savasana every day, once a day. Drop the twired – be more at peace – get to know yourself. I promise you won’t regret it! (Oh yeah, let me know how it goes…)

Please let us know in the comments how you feel after the exercise!

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Namaste Mamas Wisdom and Gift Guide

We are all sons or daughters and arrived here by a kind of magic.

We asked a few of our fabulous mamas here at Namaste to share their experience around Motherhood and we love what they had to share:

Namaste Teacher Margi writes these sweet haikus for her son, Fin:

My role as a mom?
To guide, allow, and protect.
It is an honor.

Six year old guru
Shines bright light on the darkness.
Fin Young Cecconi.

mae-amelia-tarot
From our Studio Director Mae: On Practicing and Protecting:

**Protection. Truth. Practice**

As a parent, your child is your most vulnerable tender heart walking through a sometimes fierce and selfish world. Every fiber of your being aches to protect that little being. Give shelter. And while giving shelter and sanctuary, truth is the vehicle in which to deliver the words and wisdom that facilitate true safety and true protection.

As anyone who has a child knows, a small child’s detection of inauthenticity is unparalleled.

Compassionate, truthful words and actions teach authentic self-confidence and understanding.

How do I find compassionate and truthful words and actions?  Through my own imperfect practice.  By mindfully connecting my mind and body, breath and spirit.  By witnessing my thoughts.  By practicing my yoga and allowing the wisdom of many thousands of teachers to resonate through my spirit and into my heart.

Through practice we offer our truth and provide protection.

nubia-fezra-tarot
Nubia says it straight from the heart, as always…

It took a lot of concentration from me, to be present in my HEART while my mind and body were telling me that motherhood was too demanding . After a while I was able to befriend my inability to open my HEART to the immense LOVE that my son was reflecting back to me. I had masks, armors and all kind of excuses to not allow my heart to burst open and to surrender to that LOVE…and when I was finally able to…my time with my son became the most OPENING spiritual experience of my life.

Now Ezra is 10 and I still learn everyday from him.

From a Bhakti Yoga perspective, motherhood is the ultimate practice of devotion where the sacred qualities of unconditional love, sacrifice, faith, tolerance, patience, good will, and hard work are all channeled towards one being, your little Guru-Baby.

Treat your mamas right this Mother’s Day. Looking for the perfect gift? See our gift guide below and don’t miss out on our Mother’s Day Sale of 20% off all jewelry for your beloved one May 1-May 10.GiftGuide-2

 

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